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Vijay tames his demons, cracks his ton

cricket Updated: Apr 03, 2010 22:59 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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Cricket is a contest between bat and ball but before you get to that, you have to win a few battles inside your head.

Murali Vijay came into IPL III after an ordinary Test and ODI series against South Africa at home. It must have been disappointing for someone who leads the group of young batsmen expected to replace Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar in India teams, particularly in Tests.

T20 also was a format where the right-hander had a couple of things to prove, even to himself. He had to believe he belonged in this League, that he could hold his own against some of the best bowlers in the world.

After a poor start, Vijay turned a small corner against the Rajasthan Royals in Ahmedabad last Sunday. The Super Kings were chasing 178 to win. Vijay hit 42 off 28 before Yusuf Pathan ran him out and the chase fizzled out.

Vijay knew it was a chance missed. He made amends on Wednesday, when he hit 78 off 39 to lead a successful chase against Bangalore. It was his highest T20 score, but he did not finish the job. “I know it would have been easier if I had stayed till the end. I am working on it,” Vijay said afterwards.

Saturday's blitz against Royals saw a man who had won the battle against doubts and was ready to take on bowlers with a clear mind. The way he repeatedly dumped spinners and medium-pacers alike over the long-on boundary, was a treat to watch. Even more impressive was how he tackled the leg-spin of Shane Warne and the raw pace of Shaun Tait.

Against Warne, Vijay used his feet to get to the pitch of the deliveries and hit a beautiful straight six to get to his fifty. And fans at Chepauk will remember for a long time how Vijay pulled Tait out of the stadium.

“I missed a century the other day and did not want to do the same today,” Vijay said. Since he is learning from his mistakes there's no telling just how far Vijay will go.